Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homemade Garlic Butter Croutons

homemade garlic butter croutons — easy and so much better than store croutons! │ thehappytulip.com


This may seem silly, but I have to confess that I've had croutons on my brain for the past week. Josh and I stayed in on Valentine's Day and I cooked him a surf-and-turf steakhouse style dinner. And for me the highlight was the Caesar salad with homemade croutons.

There's something about bread baked to a crisp in garlicky butter . . .

homemade garlic butter croutons — easy and so much better than store croutons! │ thehappytulip.com


I considered buying croutons for the salad but store-bought croutons are never impressive and they cost a couple bucks. I knew that I could pick up a loaf of day old french bread for a buck and make something better.

I like to lightly crush the cloves and simmer them whole in the butter, instead of mincing them up to toss with the bread. I find that small garlic pieces often get black and burnt before the bread crisps up, so infusing the butter with the garlic flavor works much better.

You should bake them for about 15 minutes if you like a bit of chew in the middle, but if you like them completely crunchy than bake them for closer to 20 minutes.

If you have any extra, they freeze really well and only take a couple of minutes to thaw.

Garlic Butter Croutons

Ingredients


  • 1 loaf of french bread
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed (not minced)

Directions


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice the bread into large, 1-inch cubes.
  3. Melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  4. Add the crushed garlic cloves to the melted butter and gently simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Discard the garlic.
  6. Toss the bread cubes and butter in a large bowl until completely combined.
  7. Spread the bread on a large cookie sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes. Tossing them half way through.


homemade garlic butter croutons — easy and so much better than store croutons! │ thehappytulip.com



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mongolian Chicken

This dish is not for the faint of heart. It is spicy!

You been warned.

But it is also so good. I'd take this up against good Chinese take-out any day.

mongolian chicken — delicious, spicy, and just as good as take-out! │ thehappytulip


Originally I made the sauce to go with beef, which is also just as good, but I find you can't have too many chicken recipes in one's recipe arsenal. You can also play around with adding veggies too. Chopped red bell pepper is delicious. Celery would be good if you like that stuff. Sugar snap peas — yum. You get the idea.

mongolian chicken — delicious, spicy, and just as good as take-out! │ thehappytulip


One note about the spice level: this dish isn't ghost pepper hot, but more of a fresh, zippy jalapeno hot, however it really can depend on the freshness of your red pepper flakes. If you can't remember when the last time you bought your red pepper flakes, throw them out and get fresh stuff.

Mongolian Chicken

adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4

Ingredients


  • 1 pound chicken, cut into bite-size, thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon oil of your choice (I like coconut oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
  • 4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil


Directions


  1. Heat the first oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add chicken and saute until cooked through.
  3. While the chicken is cooking combine the water, cornstarch, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, honey, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked through, add in the garlic and green onions. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute.
  5. Pour in the sauce mixture and stir until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken.

Enjoy!


mongolian chicken — delicious, spicy, and just as good as take-out! │ thehappytulip

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Three Creative, Almost-Free Ways to Say I Love You on Valentine's Day

Three creative, almost-free ways to say I love you on Valentine's Day │ thehappytulip.com

We love Valentine's Day in our household. We don't view it as a commercial heyday, but as a time to focus on loving each other. While many people spend a lot of money on extravagant gifts — we have neither the money nor the intent to do that. Small, handmade, and thoughtful notes or treats is what mean the most to us.

So I have three ideas — that are in no way original ideas to me, just three small, but creative, almost-free (!) gestures that I have done in the past to show my husband that I love him on Valentine's day.


Three creative, almost-free ways to say I love you on valentine's day │ thehappytulip.com

1. Washi tape wall love note


Washi tape is decorative tape that you can now find just about any store these days. I bought mine at Walmart for a couple bucks. You can create a temporary love note to your sweetie on your painted walls very easily. I created mine on my chalkboard wall only because it is in the hallway directly opposite our bedroom door. The roll of washi tape was 12 yards and I used most of a roll to create these 3.5" letters.


Three creative, almost-free ways to say I love you on Valentine's Day │ thehappytulip.com

2. "Heart attack"


My husband really liked this idea last year. I cut out many hearts out of pink and red construction paper and secretly taped them all inside his truck with a larger heart on the window that read "You've just had a heart attack! I love you!" It was a nice surprise for him when he went to go leave for work the next morning.

You can do that same thing in a specific room or office, not just a vehicle. If you do choose to do this in your loved one's vehicle, please make sure to not place hearts in places that would impede driving safely.


Three creative, almost-free ways to say I love you on Valentine's Day │ thehappytulip.com

3. Hidden candy


I have to give credit to my father for this one. Growing up, he would hide a specified number of chocolate kisses for me and my sisters to find on Valentine's Day. He would leave us a card (usually handmade) that told us how many to search for and which room they were in — we each would have a different room so there was no fighting. I always looked forward to it every year.

I now do the same thing for my husband, except I hide Werther's candies because that's his favorite. I hide them all over the house — in cupboards and drawers, in jacket pockets, on shelves, etc. Wherever he might eventually come across them in his day-to-day life. He doesn't actively search for them though, he likes to find them randomly as a little "I love you" treat. He finds most of them within a day, but sometimes he'll come across one a few months after Valentine's — I think those are his favorite.


Do you all have any creative traditions that you do for your sweetie on Valentine's Day?